Wizard's Manual

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Just one of many, many names for the basic body of magical, ethical and scientific knowledge made available to all wizards. It is normally presented or otherwise made available to a future probationary wizard when he or she is ready to accept and understand the responsibilities of wizardry as expressed in the local variation of the Wizard's Oath, and (normally) when the conditions leading up to the probationer's Ordeal are all in place. In cultures where writing and/or printing are a commonplace, the Manual normally takes the form of a book (though there are often variations on this theme, depending on cultural issues: see below).

(A note to the readership: This Concordance entry will be fairly complex, and is intended to be canonical, so it will more than likely take a while to complete. Nothing in it should be considered definitive until the "stub" notation disappears. --DianeDuane 07:01, 15 Jun 2005 (EDT))

A brief history

Manual presentation / acquisition

The basic understanding about the Wizard's Manual (and the vast majority of its many other versions across space and time) is that it is not offered to a potential probationary wizard until that person is ready to take the Wizard's Oath, or until the Universe finds itself presented with a problem to which that person, as a wizard, is the best (or only) possible answer. At that time, the Manual simply turns up in a place or situation in which the potential probationer will discover it and recognize it as something out of the ordinary. Nita's discovery of her manual in her town's children's library, or Kit's discovery of his among a pile of used books, would be typical. Normally the Manual disguises itself (or is disguised: the issue of Manual sentience is always cause for discussion among wizards) so as to make it easier for the potential probationer not to unduly attract attention to her-/him-/itself. This is particularly useful in sevarfrith cultures, such as those of many industrialized countries on Earth: but there are some wizards who suggest that even in non-sevarfrith cultures, this may happen to spare the probationer the immediate attention of the Lone Power.

Once the probationer in question has gone through enough of the orientation material in the Manual for him or her (or it) to understand the import of what's going on, the Wizard's Oath is then offered. However, the offer does not remain open indefinitely. Since the Universe only has so much energy available to it, the patience of the Powers that Be cannot afford to be infinite. Enough of a delay in choice will normally result in the offer of the Oath being withdrawn. If the Manual presented itself as a book, that book will normally relapse to the seeming of whatever it had been masquerading as when initially found or presented.

All the above being understood, each probationer, or wizard-on-Ordeal, is nonetheless handled by the Powers on a case-by-case basis. Since very extended Ordeals are not unknown -- see TBONWM and AWAL for examples -- it is prudent to assume that there might be situations in which a wizard's Manual or the equivalent information could lie more or less dormant for long periods, waiting for some specific change in the potential wizard's circumstances.

Theories of Manual implementation

Modes of information inclusion: raw, "sampled", "steered", and "cooperatively included"

Authorizations, limitations, and privacy issues


Data redaction and "dynamic omission"

Contributions, assumptions, periodicals and plug-ins


"Assumption" is a process by which the content of some other source of information -- manuscript, book, database, what have you -- is "assumed into" the Manual because the contained information is either unique of its kind, valuable for historical or other reasons, or the best data available at the present moment. Linnaeus's little-known Bestiarium Ignotum would be typical of this kind of assumption: it is both historically valuable, and useful to wizards on Earth who are discussing or researching various types of wizardly fauna which Linnaeus classified.

But digital data is also excellently suited to being assumed. Manual "acquisition" routines daily sample and excerpt data from all Earthly online and broadcast sources (as happens during WH when Spot provides Dairine and Roshaun with live data from the SOHO satellite). Additionally, the "should we pay attention?" wizardly data-sorting routine now usually (and jocularly) referred to as "Giggle" looks once each minute at newly-assumed data, rating and flagging it for usefulness, timeliness, accuracy, and (because the Universe itself finds some things funny) humor. It is to be assumed (ahem) that there are wizards working in Google's organization, assisting with the finer points of this never-ending job. After all, the ranking algorithm is never going to be exactly right...

"Periodicals" are sections of the Manual which are usually more of a speculative nature than a definitive one. The name has more to do with their style than any particular updating schedule. Periodicals usually have to do with research into a given subject, and can strongly resemble collaborative weblogs or even the wiki format. One well-known Earth-based example is the Acta Parabiologica, in which wizards interested in the subject share their discoveries, speculations and other data about the planet's wizardly fauna.

The Manual on Earth: cultural variations

Not everyone on Earth receives their Manual as a book. There are numerous interspecies variations, not to mention cultural variations among humans alone.

In Ireland, for example -- unquestionably one of the earliest widely-literate European societies -- wizards are nonetheless usually "issued" the Manual as discrete pieces of information which then are committed to memory, the way druids and bards handled their own large bodies of data during millennia past. (AWAB) That said, the slightly crazed technological acquisitiveness of the Irish makes it entirely likely that the newer young wizards in Sligo or Roscommon or Dublin 6 are already carrying Manual implementations in cellphones or PDAs, and receiving updates via SMS.

Other cultures on Earth with similarly strong traditions of complex verbal information transfer (for example, some African cultures, the Maori, numerous native American bands and tribes, various seannachi-trained Scots-Gaelic and Gaeilge speakers, and so forth) similarly receive wizardly information as something heard, overheard, or "underheard". Such cultures typically refer to Manual functions as "the Knowledge" or by some similar name.

Obviously enough, other wizardly species native to Earth routinely don't use books, and receive Manual functions through other modalities. Whale-wizards hear the Sea "speak" or "sing" to them (DW), usually in their species's own idiom. Feline wizards hear what they refer to as "the Whispering", both spells and occasional commentary being assumed to come directly from Hrau'f the Silent, one of the Feline Powers That Be and daughter of Queen Iau. (TBONWM, OHMWS/TVTQ)

The Manual on Earth: technological implementations

Mainframe and desktop implementations of the Manual began to become available as soon as the machines themselves started to become widespread. In HW, Dairine discovers that her family's new computer is one of these. A covert section of the New York Public Library's catalog database, CATNYP, is another.

Straightforward laptop implementations of the Manual (unlike Spot, who started out as a desktop but has been upgraded several times) are now readily available, finally having come out of beta. (The Mac versions came out first. Let's not discuss the abandoned quadruple-beta of Vista; matters seem to have settled somewhat with the release of Windows 7, though some driver issues linger.)

Newer hardware-based implementations of the Manual include the wildly popular WizPod, and of course the new WizPad (even though app approvals remain quirky despite the intervention of the Powers that Be). An iPhone-based version continues in development, integration between the strictly wizardly functions and the many service providers continuing to present a challenge. 3G and 4G cellphone implementations are in various stages of beta release at the moment, the newly-rolled-out Android implementations proving surprisingly popular.

Manual-equivalents on other worlds

The ethical divide

Unbundled Manual functions ("spin-offs")

Spin-offs are more or less the reverse of plug-ins. A spin-off is a section of the Manual which has been "unbundled", ported into other media (usually electronic or telepathic), and made available to Speech-users who are not wizards. One example would be the Plane Gazetteer, which contains the Manual's excerpted real-time information on the location and orientation of various accessible alternate universes and dimensions, as well as more detailed information on the planets and habitable spaces contained within them. The "edition" contained in the spun-off version of the Gazetteer, however, is missing the information on such spaces' ethical constants and other paraphysical data. While it is wildly unlikely that a nonwizardly Speech-user could use that data to change the characteristics of a planet or space, the Powers That Be are apparently taking no chances.

There is also a more limited type of spin-off, sometimes referred to as a "Secondary spin" or "double unbundle", in which the data in a spun-off resource like the Gazetteer, or some other portion of the Manual, is made available in a local or vernacular language, not the Speech. Typical of a secondary spin would be the English-language text precís describing the wizards about to come for a visit in WH that Dairine makes available for her dad to read.


On a wizard's demise, if there exists a concrete version of the information -- like the book form of the Manual on Earth -- it normally vanishes. This is sometimes itself taken as evidence that the wizard in question has moved on to a different plane of existence...though, lacking other evidence, such a vanishing could possibly be misconstrued.